Each step of oral hygiene has a reason for being. It’s not about aesthetics, as perhaps Jessica Simpson thought when she said that she used the brush from time to time and that she used to clean her teeth only with mouthwash and sometimes with the sleeve of her sweater.
Brushing, rinsing, flossing, among other habits, have decisive importance in the health of teeth and gums. Dr. Libia Terán, a licensed dentist from the University of Missouri-Kansas City, with a practice in Florida, explains that these steps allow us to minimize the risk of oral diseases, such as the appearance of plaque, cavities or gum disease.
Brushing, to begin with, is the basic method of removing plaque and tartar. Without this step the cleaning is not efficient at all. The expert recommends doing it at least twice a day, and if it is done after each meal, wait about 30 minutes after eating to prevent the damage that acids from food and drinks can cause to the teeth.
In addition, it is convenient that the toothpaste or toothpaste has ingredients that protect teeth from cavities, prevent the appearance of plaque and take care of the gums, and the use of dental floss prevents the accumulation of dirt and bacteria between teeth and that affect the gums. . Likewise, the use of mouthwash is a beneficial complement that provides freshness and good breath, but also reaches places where toothpaste may not reach.
None of this makes sense if the toothbrush is in poor condition and is a concentrate of bacteria. Although we might think that this is a marketing strategy, Terán says that the toothbrush should be changed every three or four months or less if its bristles are visibly damaged, and other experts confirm this because there are many factors that can influence, in addition to what evident: a new brush -or head, if using an electric or battery-powered brush- cleans much more efficiently than one with worn bristles.
On the other hand, the brush may still look good, but the truth is that it packs a lot more than you’ll care to know. In fact, Dr. Carolina Pérez Ferrer, a dentist at the Vitaldent Center for Higher Studies, consulted by El País in Spain, says that the greatest risk of not changing the brush when appropriate is that we could contract infections transmitted by bacteria and fungi that make life in the utensil.
A study published in Microorganisms showed that the proliferation of bacteria and microbes is related to the time of use and the age of the users, but more research is needed to determine the factors that influence the composition of these bacterial communities. However, it concluded that the brushes “should be replaced after three months at the most and, in the best of cases, after one or two months”.
Among the bacteria found, it is confirmed that the majority are related to our own mouth, but it is not a myth that bacteria such as Candida and E. coli related to what is spread every time you flush the toilet without covering it also adhere. In fact, in this research it is recommended that, if possible, they be kept outside the bathroom.
Although the dentist María López, spokeswoman for the American Dental Association, consulted by AARP, believes that we should not get too stressed because we are frequently exposed to bacteria, it is important to keep in mind that the risk can be high if we have low defenses, an immune system weakened or proper oral cleaning is not followed.
For the expert, the best way to prevent a source of bacteria from creating on the brush, in addition to changing it at the recommended time, is to wash it very well after use and keep it dry. In this sense, it should also be noted that the mouth has a large number of bacteria that can remain in it, in addition to food remains.
Additionally, it is advisable to store it in a place where it can dry in the air, and avoid lids or closed places that will preserve moisture and with it, the ideal environment for bacteria and other microorganisms is created.
How to choose the right toothbrush
Choosing the perfect brush can have to do with many factors, such as if you suffer from an injury, if you use prosthetics, or if you have sensitive teeth, for example. Whether it is electric, bamboo, or natural bristles is up to the user, but what the American Dental Association does recommend is to choose one with soft bristles, since those that are very strong or medium could harm the gums or tooth enamel.
Those with rounded bristles are kind to the gums and effectively remove dental plaque. It is also convenient that they have a tongue cleaner because more than a fad, with this habit bacteria and waste that accumulate on the surface of this organ are eliminated.
In relation to the brushing technique, it is advisable to consult with the specialist what is the best way for your particular case.
Finally, other recommendations to preserve our dental health offered by the National Institute of Aging, are to visit the specialist on a regular basis to do deep cleanings; maintain a balanced diet and adequate hydration, and avoid smoking as this stimulates the appearance of gum disease, among other things that are harmful to health.